Voyages North

31 August 2014 | posted at Sydney, B.C.
24 August 2014 | posted at Nanaimo August 24, 2014
02 August 2014 | posted at Port McNeill
02 August 2014 | posted at Port McNeill
02 August 2014 | posted at Port McNeill
02 August 2014 | posted at Port McNeill
20 July 2014 | posted at Port McNeill
15 July 2014 | posted at Pender Harbour
21 February 2014 | Puget Sound
11 December 2013 | posted in Seattle
05 September 2013 | posted at Port Townsend
05 September 2013 | posted at Port Townsend
24 August 2013 | posted at Shawl Bay

Around the Hood Canal with Rubber Bands

21 August 2021
Elsie Hulsizer
July 28, 2021

Photo: Osprey going south through the Hood Canal Floating Bridge.

We arrived at the Bridge half an hour early for our requested 1100 hrs opening. When a massive concrete floating bridge was opening just for us, we wanted to be on time.

No simple drawbridge, the Hood Canal Floating Bridge comprises fixed spans (i.e. floating but unmovable) on either end and movable floating spans in between. We had to wait for one of the fixed spans to rise up, making space for one of the movable spans to go underneath it before we could enter the channel.

By 1045, a long line of cars was already waiting for us to get through. At precisely 1100 hrs, the bridge horn blew and the fixed span rose up as the movable span glided east underneath it. When there was enough open water to pass through, Steve shifted to forward and Osprey moved ahead through the opening. I breathed a sigh of relief. Then I looked back. The closed bridge looked so solid, that for an instant I felt trapped. But I shrugged the feeling off; we could always get out by requesting another opening.

With the sun glinting off ripples on the water, Osprey headed south, picking up speed.
Steve and I were taking two weeks to explore the Hood Canal. With the pandemic keeping us out of Canada and Alaska we were looking for someplace new, and hopefully uncrowded, for our next sailing adventure. The Hood Canal promised views of mountains and blue water, sparsely populated shores, a very few marinas, and the nuisance to sailboats of having to open a major bridge to get there.

On the cockpit seat, Chart 18441 (Puget Sound Northern Part) showed large swaths of the north Canal outlined in purple and labeled "Naval Operating Areas." "Operating areas" meant torpedo testing. Steve scanned the water, looking for Navy patrol boats to warn us off. "Maybe they're not operating today," he said. We continued on, passing the Bangor Submarine Base with its bulky buildings and tall antennas. Steve, a former submariner, counted three submarines at the dock.

Bangor Naval Base
Photo: Bangor Naval Base
To starboard the long thin Tonandos Peninsula divided the Canal into two with Dabob Bay and Quilcene Bay, our destination, on the west. Farther south we could see the broad delta of the Dosewallips River and above it green hills topped with dark mountains, snowless in the summer drought.

Tonandos Peninsula
Northern Hood Canal including Dabob and Quilcene Bay

We were motoring around the bottom of the peninsula when Steve muttered, "Something doesn't sound right." He slowed the engine, then shifted into neutral. The engine kept running slowly ahead. Steve shifted into reverse. The engine still ran slowly ahead. He swore. "We have only forward," he said. "No neutral or reverse. I hope I can fix it when we get to Quilcene."

Was this the danger I had anticipated as the bridge had closed behind us? Arranging for repairs in this underpopulated Canal wouldn't be easy. Just then the radio interrupted my imaginations with the call, "Osprey, Osprey." Steve picked up the microphone. It was the Navy calling. They were doing "operations" (testing torpedos) and requested us to go farther north before turning west. We turned north. We weren't going to argue with torpedos.

Once inside Quilcene Bay, we could see a sparsely populated bay with a scattering of houses along the shore, a small marina behind a rock breakwater, and beyond the marina a few industrial buildings. It didn't look like the kind of place that would have yacht repair facilities.

The chart showed a likely anchorage off the marina with depths of from 3-4 fathoms. Our challenge would be to set the anchor without a reverse gear. Steve turned the engine off and we drifted ahead, propelled by momentum. When we were almost stopped, I dropped the anchor, letting enough chain out for a 3 to 1 scope, then setting the brake. The anchor grabbed and brought us to a stop. It had been easy!

By the time I put the anchor hook on the chain and walked aft, Steve had disappeared below. I heard the clatter of stairs being removed from above the engine, then a long silence followed by a string of swear words. Peering into the cabin, I saw Steve holding up a rusty fitting in his hand. "The connector between the gear shift and the cable is broken. I can't fix it and we don't have a spare."

My heart sank as I imagined waiting days for parts to be delivered or, worse, having to pay for a tow out the canal. Steve's thoughts were elsewhere. He was rummaging through the galley drawers. "Where are the rubber bands. I know we've got some."

Finally, Steve held up several blue rubber bands. With a glint in his eyed, he said. "What's that book that Wendy wrote? Around the world with Duct Tape and Bailing Wire?" How about Around the Hood Canal with Rubber Bands?" (He was referring to is Sea Trials: Around the World with Duct Tape and Bailing Wire by Wendy Hinman.)

A half hour later I listened with relief as Steve shifted the engine from forward to neutral to reverse and back. Steve had managed a complicated repair with two rubber bands from a newspaper.

We had a functioning gear shift again. Tomorrow we would explore the Quilcene Marina then head south to Pleasant Harbor. I just hoped the rubber bands would hold.

Fords Terror: A Convenient Anchorage

11 July 2021 | Posted in Seattle
Elsie Hulsizer
Photo: Osprey anchored in the West Arm of Fords Terror

In April 2013, I wrote an article in 48 North titled Braving the Narrows at Fords Terror. The next time we approached its entrance, we were surprised to see several boats ahead of us waiting for the tide. During previous trips we had seen at most one other boat each time. Concerned that the boaters might not know the safe way to enter, Steve radioed one of them and inquired whether they knew how to get in. "Well, I do have a magazine article about it," the skipper replied. With a full page photo of Osprey anchored in the West Arm of the inlet in the article, he obviously had recognized Osprey. I have since wondered, somewhat guiltily, if my article contributed to an increase in the number of boats going through.

The article is no longer available on the 48 North website. This blog is intended to provide the navigational information it contained. Most of the rest of that story was taken from my book Glaciers, Bears and Totems.

The 2021 edition of the Waggoner Cruising Guide states that there are no convenient anchorages in Endicott Arm, describing Fords Terror, halfway up the inlet, as remote, seldom visited and poorly charted.

I take issue with the characterization of Fords Terror as inconvenient. It's ideally situated for anchoring either the night before or after a trip to Dawes Glacier. And in my opinion, Fords Terror is one of the most spectacular anchorages in Southeast Alaska. It makes a trip up Endicott truly memorable. And although Fords Terror has a challenging entrance with uncharted rocks and no published tide tables, with sufficient local knowledge it's possible to make a trip there safely. And more boats are making it into Fords Terror every year.

In the Third edition of Exploring Southeast Alaska: Dixon Entrance to Skagway, Don Douglass and Reanne Hemingway-Douglas provide a sketch of the Fords Terror entrance and its outer basin. Both the sketch and the U.S. G.S. Survey Map for the Sumdum Quadrangle show more detail than the navigational chart including the locations of shoals and rocks. The Douglasses estimated that the entrance carries 8ft at zero tide and concluded that shallow-draft boats do not have to limit their transit to high-water slack. (The Douglasses successfully entered at low-water slack.) With our 6ft draft keel, we enter only at high-water slack.

There's also a useful trick for entering Fords Terror first reported by Linda Lewis, owner of Private Boating Instruction LLC, in a blog post. Captain Lewis recommended first locating the multi-stream waterfall on the west wall of the outer anchorage, putting your stern on that waterfall, then heading 290 magnetic to the entrance. That course would take a boat into the entrance between the two shoals.

Photo of Multi-stream waterfall
Photo: Multi-stream waterfall for entering Fords Terror

Changes in magnetic variation can alter a compass course over time and enough time has passed since Captain Lewis posted her blog (no longer online) to change the compass course by a few degrees. To deal with this, Steve developed the procedure of setting our course by steering toward the entrance itself from the waterfall, marking our compass course, then following that course into the entrance.

We learned another valuable piece of local knowledge from the tour boat Island Spirit. They enter or leave at 25 minutes after high water at Juneau.

If you are fortunate to arrive outside Fords Terror during low tide, you can observe the rocks and shoals while waiting for the tide to rise. That way, you will not only be able to recognize the entrance, but be properly terrified as you approach it.

Entrance at Low Tode
Photo: Fords Terror at Low Tide

Bainbridge Island Wind Harp

16 May 2021
Elsie Hulsizer
March 27, 2021

Photo: The wind harp building on Bainbridge Island above Agate Pass. The harp itself is missing.

We were sailing north through Agate Pass, Osprey's sails hanging limply in the light breeze. Our engine, hobbled by a broken alternator, pushed us slowly ahead against an incoming tide. But we weren't in a rush; the sun bouncing off the water warmed our faces and we had all day to get home. I grabbed the binoculars and scanned the cliffside on Bainbridge Island to the east, looking for the small triangular building that housed a giant wind harp. As the building came into view, I saw that the metal harp, which had once been visibly attached to the building, was missing.

I had first learned of the wind harp in the early 2000's from the 1997 book Gunkholing in South Puget Sound by Jo Bailey and Carl Nyberg. Bailey and Nyberg noted the harp was 0.25 mi south of the Agate Pass Bridge. I got in the habit of searching for it as we approached the bridge. Each time I looked, it became more difficult to see the small building among the growing trees. Then one year I couldn't find it at all. Concluding it had either been taken down or hidden by new tree growth we stopped searching until this winter when I spotted the building among a swath of newly-felled trees.

A few days after that trip through Agate Pass, I pulled Gunkholing in South Puget Sound off my bookshelf. Looking through it, I marveled at its treasure trove of information. For example, it noted that around the corner to the east from the Agate Pass bridge, is a large glacial erratic rock with a petroglyph carved on its side. I knew of the petroglyph from reading rock art books but had not been able to learn its exact location. I now plan to look for it the next time I'm in the area at low tide.

Seeing the harp building got me thinking of Jo Bailey, who died in 2017 at 89. As women authors of sailing books, Jo and I had often met at seminars and boat shows. Once she told me that she felt out of place with all the adventurous women sailors. She was too scared to sail in the ocean. But I argued that her book, which gave many new sailors the confidence to brave Puget Sound, was a sailing accomplishment in itself.

I recall a conversation Steve and I had with one of Jo Bailey's sons before she died. Her son described her dementia and the task of taking her to the local swimming pool. Dealing with her dementia had frustrated him but seeing her childlike delight in being in the water made up for the frustration. I thought at first that Bailey's simple delight with the water was solely a sign of dementia. Thinking about it now, I believe it was also a sign of Jo Bailey's innate love of the water, something she conveyed through her books.

Bailey and Nyberg didn't explain why the harp had been placed above Agate Pass or who had put it there, but it took me only a few minutes to find a web post about the wind harp by its builder, Ron Konzak, https://www.harpspectrum.org/non/konzak_short.shtml. Konzak wrote that he imagined such a harp and then realized he had to build it or be haunted by the image. Another internet search revealed the information that Konzak was an architectural designer, craftsman of Celtic harps and other fine woodworks, and a professional musician. His "Gooey-Duck Song" was a hit in the Pacific Northwest and Australia and was included in the Washington Centennial Songbook.
In the web post, Konzak noted that the harp was deteriorating and that he planned to rebuild it and move it to a more public location.

Wondering when that might happen, I emailed Konzak. Joyce Rice, whose email was listed on the same site, replied. She told me that the website had been written in about 2000 and Konzak had died in 2008. She knew nothing more about the project than what was on the website. Other efforts to find more information, including asking a harp-playing friend who lives on Bainbridge Island were also unsuccessful. But the visible effort to clear trees from around the harp building showed me that someone cares about it. I'll keep looking for changes each time we pass by.

Like Jo Bailey’s books that outlive her, Konzak’s music outlives him. Recordings of the giant wind harp can be heard at https://soundcloud.com/soundsofthedawn/ron-konzak-the-giant-puget-sound-wind-harp. The recordings are more metallic than melodic, but haunting. The Gooey-Duck Song can be heard at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3JjhZfJ4dto.
Vessel Name: Osprey
Vessel Make/Model: Annapolis 44 sloop
Hailing Port: Seattle
Crew: Steve and Elsie Hulsizer (author of Glaciers, Bears and Totems and Voyages to Windward)
About:
Elsie and Steve Hulsizer have sailed northwest waters since arriving in Seattle via sailboat from Boston in 1979. [...]
Extra:
2019 Seattle to SE Alaska 2018 San Juan Islands to Great Bear Rainforest 2017: local cruising including South Puget Sound and San Juan Islands 2016:north up West Coast VI, across QC Sound to central BC coast 2015: trip to SE Alaska 2014: Seymour and Belize Inlets through Nakwakto Rapids 2013: [...]
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